Facebook already has around 2 billion active monthly users, but it's going after more.
Until recently, you needed to be at least 13 years old to have an account. That changed when Facebook made available its Messenger Kids app.
Now, children under 13 can sign up for an account and video chat online. Child experts say this is a terrible idea...and they're right!
Child development experts are speaking out against Messenger Kids
Messenger Kids is a service recently offered by Facebook. It's a free video calling and messaging app designed for kids to connect with close friends and family from their gadget.
Facebook is promoting the new service as a secure way for kids to use its platform. Parents control who their kids can connect with by creating parent-approved contacts, which is supposedly a more controlled environment.
Even though the app is being billed as safe for kids to use, child development experts are speaking out against it. But why?
Over 100 experts and advocates sent a letter this week to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter expresses concerns over Messenger Kids and its potential negative effects on young children.
The letter's first paragraph reads, "We are writing you to discontinue Messenger Kids, Facebook's first social media app designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Given Facebook's enormous reach and marketing prowess, Messenger Kids will likely be the first social media platform widely used by elementary school children.
"But a growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it very likely this new app will undermine children's healthy development."
The letter, sent by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, goes on for several pages describing how younger children are not ready to have social media accounts. If you would like to read the letter in its entirety, click here.
The enticement of Messenger Kids
The Messenger Kids features are enticing; group or one-on-one video calls with loved ones and friends, fun interactive masks, stickers, reactions and sound effects and Messenger Kids allows kids to message and video call using Wi-Fi so they don't need a phone number.
It all sounds great until we remember that this is the internet and the only way to keep young kids completely safe from online predators is to keep them offline.
The Messenger Kids app is currently available for Apple gadgets and through Amazon Fire tablets. The app is expected to be available on Android gadgets in the near future.
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